Israel’s anti-missile system ‘likely to leave civilians exposed in event of war’
IDF has insufficient number of Iron Dome batteries to protect military sites and civilian areas from Hezbollah, says commander
Israel’s vaunted missile defence system is likely to leave the civilian population exposed to an incoming barrage of rockets in the event of a war as it is deployed to protect key strategic and military sites, according the country’s commander of the home front.
Despite the success of the Iron Dome anti-missile batteries at intercepting rockets launched from Gaza during November’s eight-day conflict, the five units currently operational are insufficient to protect against the superior firepower of Hezbollah in Lebanon.
“I will recommend protecting the country’s functional continuity and the ability to maintain an [Israeli Defence Forces] offensive effort over time, until the war is won,” Major General Eyal Eisenberg, head of the home front command, said in an interview with Haaretz.
“That means protecting power plants and the air force bases before the big cities.”
Israel needed more than 10 batteries to protect the civilian population in the targeted regions, he said. “As of now… we will have to introduce an order of priorities in resources. We will have to make a tough, trenchant and clear decision.”
According to the Israeli military, about 1,500 rockets were launched from Gaza during Operation Pillar of Defence. Iron Dome intercepted 85% of those that were a risk to life. Four Israeli civilians were killed by rockets in the conflict.
Hezbollah has about 5,000 warheads in its arsenal, Eisenberg said. The area around Tel Aviv, Israel’s major metropolis, will come under a massive missile barrage, he added. “In my estimation, the first days will be extremely difficult. I am preparing for a scenario in which more than a thousand missiles and rockets a day are fired at the civilian rear.”
Instead of being in the rear, Israeli citizens would find themselves “on a second front”.
The success of Iron Dome during November’s conflict had given the Israeli public a false sense of security, he said. “Because of Iron Dome, the civilian population perceived the confrontation as being less intensive than it actually was.”
In a future conflict, it was imperative the public followed self-defence instructions “as though there were no such defence systems”.
It will be at least two years before Israel acquires another five operational Iron Dome batteries.